I was remembering an old writer’s saying:
“when in doubt, write what you know”
So much of what I’ve been writing has been nothing at all about what I know and while I don’t consider myself a real writer, and I’m mostly fine with not taking myself too seriously, I still don’t like sucking at what I do. If I can do better, I should, even if what I’m writing isn’t particularly meaningful or doesn’t inspire me, it doesn’t mean I can’t still do a better job.
So, today I thought perhaps the place to start would be to write what I know when I’m not writing for someone else…
I went exploring for ideas and found on my way some musical pages I’d stopped and read and listened to, and eventually I remembered…
Some time ago I took myself out of the game… I stopped performing, I stopped practicing, I stopped singing…I even stopped hearing the music embedded in my heart.
I’d sidelined myself, for many well-remembered and important reasons, and for quite a while that was OK. I was happy out of the spotlight, out of the social interactions and engagement, out of the constant necessity for attention.
I needed to be silent for a while. I wanted to be still and separate, out from under the pressure, the constant, incessant, pressure that was mostly self-imposed. I needed to lick my wounds and figure myself out, who I was if not the girl with the beautiful voice. What and who was I beyond that, who… who was I, without her?
I was almost too afraid to ask that last question, so for a long time I sat back and just watched and rarely made an outward comment, and the world just passed me by while still, I sat in silence, only watching.
Then last spring something started to change, a slight shift, somewhere, and sudden, and there I was engaging again, ever so slightly.
I started these fledgling attempts at writing, probably mostly out of necessity, or a want to be heard by someone, somewhere again, even if only from the safety of my little laptop in my tiny room.
Even if I may not have anything important or interesting to say. But, I started again. With words this time, which was, for a while I think, just enough.
Then I was searching for something else, something more, something newly missing.While I was searching, I read and listened to the beautiful poems and stories I found, and the music that inspired them.
When two things hit me and cut me to the quick.
Two simultaneous thoughts that buckled me, devastating me to the floor, as unabated, unending streams of tears poured and shook out of me, robbing me of all my energy.
Like a rag-doll splayed out and spent, left abandoned on the stair, half stuck from landing where she’d been carelessly tossed away.
These two thoughts hit me, all at once:
I Am a Witness
I am a silent witness of my own life. I have removed myself from the world, and in so doing, I removed my biggest part of myself…
I Am Not Me Without the Music
The notion I’d carried for so long that I could somehow divorce myself from the music, as though it was this foreign thing, maybe only something borrowed and not a part of who I am, was utter nonsense. There isn’t any separation between artist and art. I am not me without the part of me that is music. My soul sings out from within constantly, whether I like it or not. While quietly, inwardly, I am always moved from the center and the deep.
When I allow myself those exquisite moments of bliss within my musical self I am home, and simultaneously bereft, and filled with such longing and love and pain-like I’ve abandoned my most precious, my own child, because what I have abandoned is the deepest most complete part of myself.
I can’t separate from what is at my core. That is like cutting myself in half and still walking around pretending that I’m still a whole person and not this missing person. Not even half a person, but a nonperson. I may not want to or sometimes work very hard to convince myself I don’t, but why when I stumble back upon myself do I miss this part of me so much?
I’ve decided I don’t want to be a witness anymore. I don’t want to be this silent nonperson who’s been abandoned by herself. I want to hear my own voice again, to reclaim it and connect, to feel and hear and know again what it feels like to be a part of the world, a part of the music- at least, if not entirely for anyone else, than myself, and maybe not only then. Maybe it’s time to stop being afraid, of what people might think and how it makes me feel, and realize there is something worse. Walking around without myself is worse. So much worse, and I’m more resilient now than I sometimes like to believe, or remember.
So, I’m letting it all back in. I’m letting in the music, I’m letting my whole self in and will stop trying to redefine “me” as something other than who I am which is Tisha, the musician, the artist, the singer, the mother, the activist, the sometimes writer, the politically obsessed daughter, the sister, the partner, the friend.
No more bearing witness to my own life, no more abandoning, leaving my soul silent, bereft in some exile, self-imposed. So pointless, gut-wrenching-ly alone and oh, just such a lonely, disappointing place, where nothing but the abyss and the cliff which tempts and pulls and coaxes, and convinces me it doesn’t matter because all of it is meaningless and pointless anyway, that awful voice inside that wants to replace my beautiful voice, my musical voice- the one that loves, that’s passionate, and feels, who cares and tries, and fails and gets up and tries again.
The voice that devastates and hurts and lets everyone down then picks them back up with the sheer forcefulness of her will, my will, and the tyrannical insistence of my heart.
A bag of mixed and jumbled flaws, sharp edges, strangely odd disconnects, and a wildness that can scare even me. That is the whole me. the musical me, where everything resonates in a visceral harmony that sings out from the core of my soul.